Eric Hanson wrote:Peter,
I should have read this more clearly before I posted. I saw that you are (quite understandably) trying to reduce your time spent weeding. I have two thoughts for you.
The first option is basically free. I am a teacher and as such I kill small forests with all of the paper I go through in a single semester. I used to put all paper in the recycle container, but now I collect it and lay this down as a weed barrier. Usually I cover the paper with straw or leaves but woodchips are a great alternative. This combination kicks weed's buts. They don't even germinate for lack of sunlight and if they did, they would never get through the paper. I find that tests are great for the paper layer as they are 3-4 pages thick and make a substantial barrier. Also, your woodchips would go further as they don't need to be very deep. All they have to do is block a little sunlight and provide enough weight to keep the paper in place. At the end of the season (or beginning depending on your preference), I just collect all the paper and chips and compost them. That paper will break down pretty quickly. Personally, I love this option as I am getting a "re-use/re-purpose" option as opposed to a recycle option. You might very well be able to get free recycled paper from schools just for the asking
The second option is to use a scuffle hoe like the one in the picture. I used to hate weeding (which is why I concocted the tests-as-weed-barrier idea in the first place), but using one of these scuffle hoes is great. I don't want to sound like an advertisement but they make weeding a piece of cake. The hoe is absolutely razor sharp and glides just under the surface of the soil and severs the foliage from the root. Done early enough and repeated occasionally, the weeds just give up. Using this hoe gives me no back pain (and I have a bad back from previous injury) and is actually fun. When I get out in the spring, just as weeds are starting to grow (about 1 inch tall) I go out, slice through the roots and decapitate the little weeds. After a couple of repeats, the weeds just give up. This year, my beds are all nice and clean.
Best of all, you can certainly use both options. Paper & woodchip the bulk of your garden (you don't need a deep layer here, just enough woodchips to hold everything in place) and then slice through weeds along the edge and you are done! After I am done with the paper and woodchips I like to incorporate them into the soil and this is an extra bonus for me as my dense clay needs as much carbon as I can get into it. I have been laying down the paper & woodchips (or leaves, or anything organic) for years and it really helps to keep my garden soil from drying out in the summer. The little bit of hoeing is nothing like the weeding I once did. If you like this idea, I can give you the URL for the hoe, but I am not certain what the Permies.com policy is on publicizing products.
I wish you all the best and hope that I can offer you something of value.
Kyle Neath wrote:
Stop stressing about weeds so much
Overall, my biggest wins have come from planting more of the seeds I want (like clover), re-purposing leaves & pine-needles, and to just kind of stop caring about weeds so much. I also use transplants from an indoor (garage) seed starting setup, which I personally believe reduces effort over the long term pretty dramatically. No cold-frame/cover/etc games with protecting young seedlings from frost, central watering during the plant's most tender time, and ease of using gratuitous amounts of mulch. I've also stopped labeling my seedlings (gasp) and I've found that's reduced a ton of effort/tedium on my part. I don't grow that many varieties of the same plant, so it's pretty obvious what's growing by the time it's a few inches high.
Suzy Krone wrote:These trees came about as a result of the USDA trying to create a fire blight resistant pear tree.
Interesting, my property is infested with them. They grow real aggressive here. 10 per square foot. They are impossible to get rid of. They grow a 5" cork screw tap root before it makes a sprout so when you try to pull it out you just top it and it comes back. It sprouts from stumps and root systems too.
If I could do grafting, that would atlas give me an option. They are hard to deal with, pruning can be painful and dangerous, and if you don't deal with the limbs right away, you basically have sharp thorny limbs you could step on (and I have) lying on the ground.
Oh god do I hate them.
It's amazing how readily they sprout. They sprout in my yard and garden and my fields of course. Atleast privet can be pulled up relatively easily. I'm guessing bradford will be seen as more of an issue pretty soon, since it can displace entire acres and become 99% bradfords with a few native plants struggling inside to out grow them.
My own observations on my land is that Sweetgum, pine, and persimmon seem to grow fast enough to out pace them, so if you can keep them down or in check and let the native trees grow, they should hopefully establish a forrest where the bradford can't take over. Like in the older forests on my land, no bradford or invasive plants. It's only in disturbed cleared areas does this invasive plant stuff become an issue.
I'm so nerdy.